What's it like to live in Reading, PA?


Cynthia Griffith

Profile written by local expert:

Cynthia Griffith

Reading, Pennsylvania's history is steeped in innovation. The metro area is home to the real-life Reading Railroad from the Monopoly board game, along with glimpses into the Allegheny Aqueduct and a more than 100-year-old, seven-story pagoda that overlooks the bordering Reading Prong mountain formation. During the 19th century, people from all over the world were drawn to Reading by the promise of work in the thriving manufacturing and transportation industries. As a result, the region's community is diverse.

As the Rust Belt's economy has ebbed and flowed, the region has existed in an almost constant state of transition. For this reason, living in Reading poses its fair share of challenges. 

Still, the Reading metro area, particularly suburban communities like Wyomissing, continues to attract new residents with its low cost of living and low crime rates. Reading also benefits from a convenient location: It's just a stone's throw away from Philadelphia, and residents can easily access Lancaster and Amish country.

See all the best places to live in Pennsylvania.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Reading, Pennsylvania is ranked:

#96 in Best Places to Live

#51 in Best Places to Retire

#4 in Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania

6.3

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    5.9
  • Value
    6.8
  • Job Market
    6.1
  • Quality of Life
    6.7
  • Net Migration
    5.7

Read how we rank places

Reading, PA Quick Stats

  • 416,642

    Metro Population

  • $48,480

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 39.9

    Median Age

  • $154,092

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.3%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $918

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 24.9 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Reading, PA?

Active residents will find plenty of ways to burn energy in Reading. The metro area has more than 125 miles of trails that are ideal for walking, jogging and biking. During the warmer months, kayaking and canoeing along the Schuylkill River are particularly popular pastimes. Those who prefer to watch sports can cheer on the Reading Fightin Phils, the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league baseball team, at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The metro area is also home to a number of noteworthy cultural attractions. The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts hosts regular exhibits and workshops, while the Genesius Theatre puts on musical theater productions. History buffs can learn about the evolution of flight at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, or take a glimpse into the life of an American legend at the Daniel Boone Homestead.

What's the cost of living in Reading, PA?

The cost of living in Reading is well below that of many other metro areas, thanks in large part to affordable housing costs. The median home sale price in Reading proper is lower than the state average, although home prices tend to be higher in suburban areas like Wyomissing. 

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.8 /10

How we calculate this.


Reading offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2019


Reading
$154,092

USA
$232,933

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Reading, PA.

What's the weather like in Reading, PA?

Reading experiences all four seasons: snowy winters, crisp autumns, cool springs and warm summers. 

What's the best way to get around Reading, PA?

While the railroads hold the highest historical value, many Reading residents opt for a different type of public transit in the form of buses. The Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority operates bus routes throughout the greater metro area. However, the majority of residents still choose to rely on their own cars to get around. The metro area is within easy reach of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which runs east to west across the state, connecting Reading with other major metro areas like Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

Biking is an increasingly popular option for many residents – especially for those who can't afford to own a car. 

For those traveling farther, Greyhound has a bus station in Reading.

Commuting in Reading, PA

Means of Transportation
Driving
89%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
3%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
2%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

24.9 minutes

1.7 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Reading, PA?

Reading's population consists of millennials, families and retirees. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Reading as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.